Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

Superbowl ads vs. viral video


Superbowl ads are the event of the year for the advertising industry. It’s a chance for top agencies to show off their best work, and the cost of both producing the spots and getting them on the air can be astronomical.

But with the rise of viral video, the economics of the Superbowl commercial is being challenged, like most other media, by the immediacy and rapid deployment possible through the Internet. Advertising Age has an article about how Dove has garnered more than 7 million viewings through the web of its “Real Beauty” ad, which details how much airbrushing and digital tomfoolery goes into a typical picture of a model in a magazine. The ad cost much less than a comparable Superbowl spot, but has been seen by a larger swath of people, has international reach, and is actively being sought out by consumers.

While I don’t think Superbowl ads will go away any time soon, simply because there ARE a provably large number of people watching the event, most of them in a specific demographic, the ads themselves may become a lot more specialized. The Superbowl, Academy Awards and other “event” television will have to make room for viral ads that appeal to a new generation of viewers that don’t put much importance on being in from of the television at a specific time to see a specific thing.

Warren Frey is a journalist, freelance writer, podcaster, video producer, and all-around media consultant currently based in Vancouver, Canada. His written work has appeared in such publications as Metro Vancouver, the Westender, Mac | Life and the Japan Times.

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